St Martin is a small hamlet belonging to the town of St Michael in the Lungau region of Austria. It’s about one hour’s drive south of Salzburg – easy for airport transfers and comfortably close enough for a day trip – and only an hour north of the borders with Italy and Slovenia (and Klagenfurt Airport).
If you’re coming in the spring, summer or autumn, it’s a great base for some European touring and the roads are excellent, especially for keen drivers, cyclists and bikers.
Get away from it all
St Michael is ideal for anyone looking to escape the crowds or seeking a more genuine Austrian adventure. Thanks to its outstanding natural beauty and commitment to sustainable development, in 2012 Lungau was made a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s a truly wonderful place to relax or detox. Having said that, for those who want some nightlife, the people here definitely know how to party so you’ll be able to mix both relaxation and a good time during you stay!
The REAL Austria
St Michael is a real Austrian town. Unlike some of the ski resort towns of the Tirol or French Alps, it’s not just about tourism. The festivals and events that take place here, of which there are hundreds, happen because the Lungau people value their heritage. You can see things here that you won’t find anywhere else – from huge flower festivals and open air markets to massive bonfires, scary monsters and giants. If you come in the spring you can see the cattle being driven down from the mountains, all beautifully painted and decorated – a real sight to behold. But behind all this tradition, St Michael is a working town. Timber and farming are just as important as skiing to the people here. That means there’s nothing false or contrived: people wear lederhosen because they’re comfortable, hard-wearing and don’t need too much washing!
Value for money
What’s more the prices here aren’t inflated. The locals eat in the same bars and restaurants as the visitors – even on the mountain. For this reason, you can get a good lunch in one of the mountain bars for 15 Euros. Beers are around 3 Euros, if not less. We’ve all been on those skiing holidays that you’ve budgeted for five or six hundred Euros per person, plus spending money, but ended up spending a thousand? That doesn’t happen here. Once you’re in Lungau, you’ll find prices are very reasonable.
It’s also somewhere you can get close to nature. Come in September/October, for instance, and you can get up close and personal with Lungau’s huge red stags, as they gather in the Zederhaus valley to prepare for the rut. Truly awesome. Or if you’re into birdwatching, we’re told there are some very rare species to be found here. When someone spotted a breeding dotterel there was no end of fuss!
As mentioned before, St Michael isn’t famous for its après-ski, but it’s definitely there if you want it. There are plenty of lively bars and restaurants at the bottom of the slopes – especially at peak season – and up on Katschberg, which is included in almost all ski passes, you’ll find plenty going on. Alternatively, if you end your day in Obertauern (also part of the Lungo ski pass), you should definitely check out the legendary Lürzer Alm. Not many people know that the Beatles made their 1965 film, Help, in Obertauern. When the night’s over, you’ll need to catch a ski bus or taxi home, but the buses are free and the taxis inexpensive and both run throughout the season. Please be warned though, the musical taste here generally involves old favourites, 80s hits and Europop… “Alice? Who the **** is Alice?!”… If you want cool bars, house music and dancing on the tables, you’re better off going to St Anton or Val d’Isère.
St Michael is as busy in the summer as it is in the winter and there’s plenty to see all-year-round. The best times to come are probably the spring and autumn – prices are at their lowest (including ours!) and the weather is generally hot by day and cool in the evening. Although of course rain is always possible, these are great times for walking, cycling, golf, mountain biking, climbing or generally just pottering. There’s some great fishing to be had and there’s a healthy interest in flying here: the flying club in Mauterndorf has all manner of light aircraft and you can hang glide (both mountain launch and tow), paraglide or fly in a glider.
The Lungauer are known for their friendliness and open-mindedness towards guests. You’ll find them extremely welcoming and friendly and there’s nothing they’ll love more than to share a few drinks with you and talk about where you come from and live. The local teenagers will smile and say hello as you pass them in the street – something you don’t see every day! – and most people speak good English…although they’ll love you if you try to speak German!
The Lungau region maintains many of its ancient traditions, so there’s often something to go and see and there are no end of hidden treasures, like out-of-the-way restaurants, events, visits to local farms shops and producers, and secret trails.
You’ll also find that Lungau is packed full of history and culture. For example, there are two famous castles within walking distance: Mauterndorf Castle was the childhood home of German Air Force boss, Hermann Goering, while Castle Moosham was home to Austria’s bloodiest witch trials. Indeed it is now often referred to as Witches’ Castle. You can get a tour of both castles or even go for dinner (both have surprisingly good restaurants in fact!). See more sightseeing opportunities…
We also highlight all the significant cultural events and happenings taking place during your stay in our weekly-printed guest activity programme, found on your chalet’s dining table. You can also of course ask us anything you wish, we’ll be only too happy to give you a good head-start towards making the most of your visit.
Austria’s Southern Alps
The Alpine area consists of several different mountain ranges, including those of Speiereck, Katschberg, Aineck, Fanningberg and Obertauern. For skiers these are all joined up by a common lift pass (please let us know if you need help with this, as there are several options). The mountain terrain spans a broad range of different heights and severity, meaning there are plenty of options available to skiers and hikers of all abilities. The trails are generally well signed if you prefer to strike out alone, and we’ll talk you through any routes you’re planning. Alternatively you can take advantage of our free guiding service.